11 February 2013

An example of a poorly designed user experience (from Amazon)

Even Amazon, the giant behemoth of internet selling makes ugly design mistakes.

Here is the scenario I ran through last night;

I finished reading a book on Kindle on my tablet and decided I wanted to buy the sequel. I went to the Kindle Store in the Kindle app and was transported to the browser (1).

I then searched for the book and found it. Strangely the price was in pounds (2). Whatever; I click through with the intention of buying. But wait. I can't buy on what turns out to be amazon.co.uk because I am in Australia (3).

So I have to click through to Amazon and hey, I have to begin the search for the book again (4).

Lucky the have a patent on one click purchases (5) as I was about to give up.

Then I buy the book, but it doesn't ship to the tablet I am on (6). I go back and see the default destination is to my other older tablet (7). So I resend it to my new tablet (8) and it starts to deliver.

Overall it is a pretty poor user experience and one I suspect that comes from incremental additions to the feature set. Agile development everywhere is at risk of delivering poor user experiences like this.

This is akin to technical debt, but it is more apparent to customers. I suppose you could call it UX design debt. Pay attention to it because it sucks and drives business away.

Let's run through a few of the failures and what might be a better approach:

  1. Browser navigation of Amazon sucks on a tablet. The page doesn't present for a tablet experience or the screen size. And why the hell are you taking me out of my nice cuddly Kindle space into a jarring other place anyway?
  2. Shouldn't the browser know what country I am in and deal in my local currency? And you have my account details as well so you know what country I come from.
  3. Why the hell doesn't the website just ignore what country I am in and deal with the regulations around regions under the hood? Why doesn't Amazon just operate as a global platform and customise locally once we get into a transaction, rather than before?
  4. Why can't you carry my search and landing page forward as we change domains?
  5. Seriously Jeff, patenting One Click purchases sucks. Why would you do that?
  6. You know I initiated a search on the back of reading the prequel on this device. I am buying the book on this device. Why would you think to ship the book to any other device?
  7. Especially one I haven't logged into - or even turned on - in over 6 months?
  8. Selecting devices on the browser is another fiddly and non-obvious activity. Oh, and the pull down feature in Kindle isn't very obvious to a novice user either.
What are your poor user design experiences? Got any to share?


  1. Anonymous5:41 pm

    No offense, but speaking of ugly user experiences, is presenting this site's recent articles in tile format with often vague pictures and having the reader hover over every tile just to get a glimpse of the title the best way to do it?

  2. Good point. What do you suggest would be better?

  3. Anonymous8:06 pm

    I like the design of this page it is fancy, especially since I figured out that I can change articels via using the arrows left and right. Furthermore I don`t care which picture or title is written down, I give every entry a try a just read it. It is most of the time faster than think about if it is worth or not. Unfortunately is the comment function ugly, I have to scroll down to confirm that I am not a robot.

    Back to the topic of the articel, it seems use cases are not properly defined here or not followed up when design changes. Maybe this worth an article how do ensure that software / requirements is properly tested from use cases during his lifecycle.